Happy May Day!
Happy May Day! It’s one of my favorite days of the year in Paris, the streets filled with that sweet, lemony scent of lilies-of-the-valley or muguets. (Interestingly, in my perfume studies, I have learned that it has been impossible so far to in any way capture that scent, to the extent that the word almost seems to have morphed in meaning within the perfumery world, so that what is accepted as “lily of the valley” doesn’t even remotely resemble the real thing. There’s one special moment in the spring when you can smell that real scent and that is it.) People give each other stems of it because they “porte bonheur”, promise happiness and good fortune. It is a lovely day and tradition and also when my husband and I first went out together, so we have a lot of good memories tied into it. When we bought our first house, this tiny house in which we still live because we are so attached to the neighborhood, the first spring we discovered lilies-of-the-valley coming up all around the house, literally encircling it, and we always thought that was a very special, wonderful sign.
This is one time I infinitely prefer the real flower over chocolate, but the chocolate renditions that some Paris chocolatiers have started doing are so cute, I had to share this one from Patrick Roger. To wish you all happiness and good fortune today and forever after!
You can see a few more chocolate muguets on my Pinterest board, if you like them. Including some macarons au muguet from Pierre Hermé!
Here’s a little excerpt from THE CHOCOLATE TOUCH, where the first of May was a special day, too. It’s Dom’s point of view:
Even he could be perfect on the first of May, with Jaime beside him. It was a soft day, balmy and gentle, with clouds that hinted at rain but never quite delivered. The fresh lemon scent of lilies-of-the-valley was everywhere, as vendors wandered the streets or stationed themselves at prominent corners with buckets full of them, culled from the woods outside of Paris. Florists sold more formally acquired bunches of the muguets, in pots or bouquets, the little white bells dangling sweetly everywhere they looked.
Dom had bought Jaime several bouquets already, after surviving having his heart broken into tiny pieces by the bouquet that she had snuck into the bathroom while he was showering. No one ever, in his whole life, had given him a little bouquet of lilies-of-the-valley on May 1 to wish him fortune and happiness.
“Ça porte bonheur, oui?” she had asked shyly.
And it did bring happiness. Oh, it did.
It was amazing how much sweeter the muguets on every street corner smelled when someone had given some to you, too. It made his whole heart feel lighter, soaring almost like that Victoire de Samothrace, to have her beside him, wishing him happiness
Happy May Day to you all!